22 July 2021

This piece was first published in Canberra Weekly on Thursday 22 July 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly demonstrated the significant role that governments have to play in supporting our community. Exacerbating uncertainty is the last thing we need from government during these challenging times.

With images of long lines outside the Centrelink office on Lonsdale Street when Covid-19 first hit still fresh in our minds, I recently discovered via a Facebook ad for the office space that the Morrison Government is considering closing the office.

It is deeply concerning that the Government could close this vital face-to-face government service for Canberrans during a pandemic, when large numbers of people need to access Centrelink services. They have been closing Centrelink offices around the country and Braddon looks like it’s next.

The Government Services Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds, has confirmed that the lease will end and has not provided any confirmation of an alternative site for central Canberra. Instead the Minister heralded online and phone services as the rationale for the government potentially closing the only in-person Centrelink office in the Canberra electorate. What the Minister does not seem to understand is that not every issue can be resolved online – there are many reasons that people are required by Centrelink to attend the shopfront.

In other words, the Government is removing the human from the Human Services they are obligated to deliver for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.  The Morrison Government’s Robo Debt scandal is a reminder of the disastrous consequences when human oversight is removed from the delivery of government services such as Centrelink. It fits with this Government’s general contempt for anyone receiving social security and the system itself.

According to Department of Social Services figures, in March 2021, over 42,000 people in the Canberra electorate relied on a Centrelink benefit, pension, allowance or concession card for support. This represents over 42, 000 people with varying and complex support needs in Canberra who should have access to face to face Centrelink services.

Since launching my petition to save the Braddon Centrelink office a fortnight ago, 800 Canberrans have signed and I have been inundated with responses on what the closure will mean for the pensioners, carers, students, and job seekers who rely on the shopfront service.

Overwhelmingly, Canberrans are concerned that if the shopfront is closed, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community will be marginalised further.

Canberrans with complex needs who don’t have phone or internet access, people with disabilities, the elderly, and those escaping domestic violence require access to face to face, human driven services. A Government that is motivated to serve and protect the community would not even question the need for this service. 

The Morrison Government must be upfront with the Canberra community and guarantee that a Centrelink office will remain in central Canberra far into the future. Our community doesn’t deserve further uncertainty on top of the challenges of the pandemic.

To add your voice and save Braddon Centrelink, please visit

This piece was first published in Canberra Weekly on Thursday 22 July 2021.